Interesting.... the National Retail Federation recently conducted a survey that, in my opinion, really has its fingers on the pulse of consumers. Yes, we're cutting back! And you can thank Congress, the President, and all politicians for that.
Pass a budget! Get spending in line and consumers won't feel that things are so uncertain. Companies will know the lay of the land, thus they will be able to make hiring decisions as well as other important decisions that they need to with confidence because they won't be kicking their own cans down the road to the next budget showdown to see if Congress actually passes a budget instead of another CR that just moves the line of scrimmage and doesn't advance the game.
According to that article linked above, even Walmart has noticed a pull-back on spending. I imagine other higher-end retailers are feeling it too. Americans are cutting back on clothing purchases, dining out, and much more.
Gas has skyrocketed here in the past two weeks. Last week, I saw one gas station --- a BP --- raise its price from $3.39 9/10ths to $3.55 9/10ths in a one-day span. Ouch. That's a 16 cent per gallon increase. Not one you want to deal with when you have to fill your minivan.
The IRS issued a press release on Valentine's Day asking the public to please only check their refund status once a day because their site was getting slammed with "Where's my refund?" requests. What this tells me is one of two things --- or even both. One that people are hurting and need that money. Two that people are terrified the IRS will be furloughed due to upcoming sequester and their refunds will somehow be delayed. I won't lie --- we filed as soon as we could. The uncertainty of having a refund stuck in limbo was not one we wanted to experience.